As a boy, Jon Day was fascinated by pigeons, which he used to rescue from the streets of London. Twenty years later he moved away from the city centre to the suburbs to start a family. But in moving house, he began to lose a sense of what it means to feel at home.
Returning to his childhood obsession with the birds, he built a coop in his garden and joined a local pigeon racing club. Over the next few years, as he made a home with his young family in Leyton, he learned to train and race his pigeons, hoping that they might teach him to feel homed.
Having lived closely with humans for tens of thousands of years, pigeons have become powerful symbols of peace and domesticity. But they are also much-maligned, and nowadays most people think of these birds, if they do so at all, as vermin.
A book about the overlooked beauty of this species, and about what it means to dwell, Homing delves into the curious world of pigeon fancying, explores the scientific mysteries of animal homing, and traces the cultural, political and philosophical meanings of home. It is a book about the making of home and making for home: a book about why we return.
Jon Day is a Lecturer in English at King's College London. He has written for the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and others. His first book, Cyclogeography, was published in 2015. He lives with his family in London.
"I love Jon Day's writing and his birds. A marvellous, soaring account"
– Olivia Laing
"Homing did something I thought would be impossible – made me fall in love with the humble, familiar feral pigeon. It is both a repository of fascinating stories and memorable characters, and a deeply felt personal enquiry into the nature of 'home'. Every page of this beautifully written book brought me pleasure"
– Charlotte Higgins
"A terrific book which explores the sport inside out, as well as our own human concept of what home is"
– Daily Telegraph
"In this lucid and beguiling book, Jon Day has written marvellously interwoven tale of our two species"
– Jonathan Raban
"A meditation that swoops agilely over topics from tyranny of technology to the paradoxes of parenting and the rewards of simply staying put [...] A joyful, richly rewarding book"
– Mail on Sunday
"Big-hearted and quietly gripping"
– The Guardian
"[A] Vivid evocation of a remarkable species and a rich working-class tradition [...] a charming defence of a much-maligned bird"
– Daily Mail
"Day's stories from the history of human-pigeon relations are well chosen and well told [...] there's a great deal to like in the simple imagery of a young family and their pigeons growing up together in an east London home"
– Literary Review
"This beautiful book by an English lecturer-cum-pigeon fancier reveals eerie parallels between human and bird life [...] [A] beautiful book about unbeautiful birds"
– The Observer